La Preview: Superheroes, Sulkers and Strange Scheduling


Mallorca (13th) v Zaragoza (18th) - 18.00 (all kick-offs local time)Instead of investigating scoundrels stealing, embezzling, hiding or spending tax payers' money in the somewhat seedy area of Balearic local politics, a local court has decided to waste even more hard-earned cash by investigating whether UEFA were right to exclude Mallorca from the 2010/2011 Europa League for falling foul of the organisation's regulations by going into administration. Unsurprisingly for an institution possibly playing to a local audience, the court decided pointlessly that UEFA were quite wrong to make that decision, although what anyone is supposed to do about it now is anyone's guess...LLL Prediction - Away win 

Sporting (19th) v Rayo Vallecano (14th) 18.00Eagle-eyed fans watching Rayo’s defeat to Atlético Madrid last week will have noticed the club’s mascots were dressed as a series of super-heroes. This is all down to a temporary marketing deal with a film distribution company that sees the club being sponsored by “The Avengers” which already looks like it may be suffering from X-Men-itis, with too many characters smashing each other to pulp.  Rayo stalwarts Tito and Pito were asked which superheroes their teammates would be. “Michu would be the Hulk because of the way he changes when he scores. Míchel is Captain America because he united everyone. Diego Costa is Iron Man as he fights with everyone,” was the considered response. The geek in LLL would suggest that Iron Man is fairly picky about his battles often preferring to ponce about instead, but that’s another story for another day. LLL Prediction - Home win

Barcelona (2nd) v Real Madrid (1st) - 20.00 In previous dispatches, LLL reported that the Madrid press were a mixture of positive and negative in response to Real Madrid’s 2-1 defeat to Bayern Munich. Some focussed on the generally poor performance of the team, while others highlighted the importance of the away goal, though that Mesut Özil strike may not be much use to a team who have kept just 20 clean sheets in their 50 games this season. There is a bit more spark in the Catalan crazy media in response to Barça’s defeat to Chelsea, a loss which has left the Culé camp feeling a little hard done by, the poor little lambs. Sport’s front cover declares positively that Barcelona “will go through playing like that”, while lead columnist Josep Maria Casanovas spits that “the English were cowards and conservative”, though it was an approach that clearly seemed to work, LLL would like to point out.  “This game could be repeated 10 times and Barça would win nine,” fumed the writer. Both results have made the Clásico somewhat tricky to predict as the games tend to be self-contained form bubbles. However, LLL is going to give it a go. The fact that Real Madrid don’t need to win will be a big influence on the match and lead to a sparkling 2-2 draw and two red cards. Both for Pepe probably. LLL Prediction - Draw

Sevilla (9th) v Levante (5th) - 22.30Now if you are paying attention, you’ll notice this particular game is due to kick-off at 22.30, therefore it’s a match that’s going to start on Saturday and end on Sunday, some kind of Spanish scheduler’s wet dream. The original kick-off time was the normal slot of 22.00, however it was bumped back by the Spanish League who didn’t want a single moment of this inferior fare soiling the post Clásico nonsense. So it seems Barcelona and Real Madrid press conferences are deemed more important than a match that could turn out to be a Champions League tussle. LLL Prediction - Home win


Real Sociedad (15th) v Villarreal (16th) - 12.00Miguel Angel Lotina usually sucks the life force out of LLL, so much so that even writing about one of his teams - in this case, Villarreal - makes the blog want to curl up on the sofa and snooze...which it has just done for half an hour! Making this morning's blog a little late. some news. Here you go. Ángel thinks the Real Sociedad game will be a final and could mark the season. LLL isn’t even going to go there, for once...LLL Prediction - Home win

Granada (17th) v Getafe (11th) - 12.00Remember the whole concept of Getafe Team Dubai? No? The buy-out by the Royal Emirates Group that would see an investment of €20m each season? Oh. Well, it seems that it might not happen after all, with Marca reporting that a deal that was supposed to be finalised at the end of April looking a little doubtful on the grounds that next to nothing has been heard from the group looking to buy Getafe in the first place. Maybe someone made a secret visit to the place and thought better of it?LLL Prediction - Home win

Racing Santander (20th) v Athletic Bilbao - 16.00Although a defeat for Racing and wins for Granada and Villarreal will spell relegation for the Cantabrian club, there is a least some good news. Last Friday, manager Álvaro Cervera went into hospital suffering from heart pains but was released on Tuesday to go back to work, where the manager spoke about a trying few days. “I’m sure it was a situation of stress. I don’t know the cause. I lost my father and my mother in a month-and-a-half, I changed teams and have turned from winning to losing,” said Álvaro. Worth noting the lack of t-shirts of support from the players during the match their boss miss last weekend, and the revelation from the Racing coach that only two players visited him in hospital. Not that LLL is judging or anything. LLL Prediction - Home win

Atlético Madrid (8th) v Espanyol (10th) - 18.00Blimey, not only have Atlético made the front cover of AS, but also the front cover of Marca - the day before Clásico Saturday, no less. That’s how good the Rojiblancos were for large chunks of their Europa League semi first leg against Valencia, with a brilliant performance from the front four and the usual going to sleep at the bag. “Marvelous Falcao!” was the headline from AS, after the striker's two goals took him to ten Europa League strikes for the season, with his second of the night so good that it even seemed to surprise the Colombian himself. “I’m happy to help with my goals,” said the future Chelsea/Manchester City/Barcelona/anywhere-but-Atlético-next-season hit man. LLL Prediction - Draw

Valencia (3rd) v Betis (12th) - 21.30LLL is looking at its ‘Team Unai’ membership card and wondering if it can continue to carry it proudly in its wallet after the 90 minutes of nonsense the blog experienced in the Vicente Calderón on Thursday night. Although Valencia picked up two goals in the injury time of each half to sort of keep the club in the tie against Atlético with the scores at 4-2, it was an abjectly awful performance from the visitors. Heck, even the Valencia boss himself agreed. “We were inferior in attack, defence and intensity,” admitted Emery. “In the second leg we need to get back to being this Valencia that we have been for large parts of the year.”Perhaps the one advantage for Valencia in the team’s ongoing chase for third spot is that the players are hardly going to be tired from Thursday night’s exertions. LLL Prediction - Home win


Osasuna (6th) v Málaga (4th) - 21.00 Just when Málaga needed a bit of a boost to carry the southern side over the Champions League finish line and overcome that challenge from pesky Levante, a blast from the past is back, back, back in town. Julio Baptista has returned to the club after a bit of R&R on some kind of muscle tear and foot rot (Spanish papers go into great medical detail). “The rehab is going well,” reported The Beast. “I’m here to help the team.”LLL Prediction - Draw